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Religious group members charged over eight-year-old’s death

<p dir="ltr">Members of a religious group in southern Queensland have been charged over the death of an eight-year-old girl earlier this year.</p> <p dir="ltr">Elizabeth Struhs died on January 7 at her home in Rangeville, Toowoomba, after she was allegedly denied insulin for the treatment of her type 1 diabetes for about six days, per the <em><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener">ABC</a></em>.</p> <p dir="ltr">Five men and six women have been charged as a result, with one 60-year-old man being charged with one count of murder and failing to supply the necessities of life, while the remaining eleven - aged between 19 and 65 years old - have been charged with one count of murder.</p> <p dir="ltr">Elizabeth’s parents, Jason and Kerrie Struhs, have previously been charged with murder, torture, and failing to provide the necessities of life.</p> <p dir="ltr">Police allege the dozen involved were aware of Elizabeth’s condition and didn’t seek medical assistance, adding that emergency services weren’t contacted until about 5.30pm on January 8.</p> <p dir="ltr">It is alleged the parents and other members of the religious group prayed for Elizabeth’s recovery instead.</p> <p dir="ltr">The charges laid against them come after six months of investigation by the Toowoomba Child Protection and Investigation Unit, the Child Trauma Unit, and the Homicide Investigation Unit.</p> <p dir="ltr">More than 30 officers conducted a search at a residence in Harristown, where the 12 residents were arrested.</p> <p dir="ltr">Detective Acting Superintendent Gary Watts said the investigation was unlike anything he had ever seen.</p> <p dir="ltr">“In my 40 years of policing, I’ve never faced a matter like this,” he said.</p> <p dir="ltr">“And I’m not aware of a similar event in Queensland, let alone Australia.”</p> <p dir="ltr">According to sources that spoke to the <em>ABC</em>, the religious group is small, tight-knit, and has no ties to any established church in Toowoomba. </p> <p dir="ltr">In a <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener">fundraiser</a> set up to support Elizabeth’s siblings, her older sister Jayde Struhs said her estranged parents were part of a “fear-driven and controlling” cult that took religion to its extremes.</p> <p dir="ltr">She said her younger sister’s death had left their extended family “completely shattered and heartbroken”.</p> <p dir="ltr">“We have faced the brutal reality that the people who should have protected her did not, and we may never know the full extent of what took place,” she said.</p> <p dir="ltr">The people charged in relation to Elizabeth’s death are expected to appear in court on Wednesday, while her parents will return to court later in July.</p> <p><span id="docs-internal-guid-ce4dfc84-7fff-8c1e-2124-4a4839db7c11"></span></p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image: Supplied</em></p>

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